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Academic Article

The Archivist in the Elevator: On the Loss of Memory and the Remembrance of AIDS in Rebecca Brown's The Gifts of the Body

Author:

Aaron Day

University of St Andrews, GB
About Aaron
Aaron is a Postgraduate Researcher in the School of English at the University of St Andrews, where he studies contemporary French and American novels of the AIDS crisis. He completed his BA in English & American Literature at the University of Kent in 2012 and his MA in Sexual Dissidence in Literature and Culture at the University of Sussex in 2013. He has worked for over three years in news journalism as both a reporter and editor. Alongside his doctoral research, he currently works as an EHC plan writer for children with special educational needs. As a PhD candidate at the University of St Andrews, his proposed thesis argues for the value of novel writing in modern and contemporary accounts of the AIDS crisis in France and the United States (1990 - Present).
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Abstract

This article explores the connections between novelistic realism, magical realism and memory through a reading of Rebecca Brown's The Gifts of the Body (1994). By taking the novel's contextual background of the AIDS crisis in the United States, I reflect on the dysfunctions of public and private forgetting and the inability to mourn as aspects of systematic cultural and political erasure. Using Jacques Derrida's and Michel Foucault's writings on the role of the archive, I argue that Brown's novel demonstrates how the remembering of HIV/AIDS is caught up between two significant, conflicting registers: one that is distilled, stereotyped, and cordoned to the world of the past, and one that is impossibly fragmented, ongoing and expansive to the point of being untenable.
How to Cite: Day, A. (2019). The Archivist in the Elevator: On the Loss of Memory and the Remembrance of AIDS in Rebecca Brown's The Gifts of the Body. Roundtable, 2(1), 4.
Published on 21 Nov 2019.
Peer Reviewed

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